Each collection of dolls in the Museum has a story to tell, spanning eras and from remote parts of Tibet, depicting how life was in the olden days.
Ever wondered what it would have been like in a day of a person staying in old Tibet? Offering a glimpse into the lives of the people from the area popularly called the “roof of the world” is this unique doll museum. The Losel Dolls Museum is nestled in the sylvan setting of the Norbulingka Research Institute which can be reached after a short and picturesque drive from Dharmsala in Himachal Pradesh.
Cobbled pathways, lush canopy with sunlight filtering through, bubbling fountains and a garden with the Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas as a backdrop makes for a perfect setting to house the museum. Norbulingka Institute in the picturesque Kangra Valley is an initiative in preserving Tibetan culture and handing down Tibetan tradition. The dolls museum is housed in one of the buildings of the institute and is spread over a few rooms.
Slice of life
These puppets crafted by monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery are hand painted, featuring striking eyebrows and “blushing” cheekbones typical at high altitudes and draped in the fineries, replicas of chuba or the long sheepskin coats preferred in high lands and other traditional hand woven costumes worn by people in old Tibet.
Dolls clad in thick woollen traditional attire complete with a stylish and colourful head gear, dolls of women sporting colourful jewellery in semi precious stones and men sporting tall hats looking lifelike are also found here.
Monks dressed in saffron and maroon robes blowing the horn and playing the cymbals, takes one back to the monastic festivals in the high altitude. Musicians and marketplace, a traditional meal of momos and many more everyday moments, each collection of dolls has a warm story to tell, spanning eras and from remote parts of Tibet. A scene from the farm, a celebration of harvest and more, all the collections in different frames makes one stop and admire the dolls.
The best part is that the space around the museum is not cramped so one can move around at ease looking up the exhibits.
Facts to remember
Entry fee is Rs. 5 for Indian nationals.
While at the institute you can pick up the traditional chubas as worn by the Losel dolls, at the souvenir shop.
Also try to meet the master statue makers at work here. The ongoing thangka painting workshops in the institute are worth a watch. These paintings depict the multi coloured mandalas drawn with minerals and organic colour on cloth or silk fabric. Traditionally these were popular as scrolls that were carried to various regions. Even now monks paint the mandalas during winter in the Tibetan monasteries that are cut off from the outside world due to heavy snow.
Have a glimpse of the art as well as applique work at the Norbulingka Institute.
Timing: 9 a.m. and 5.30 p.m
Contact: Norbulingka Institute, PO Sidhpur, at 01892 246405.